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Thousands Rally in Rome Over Controversial New Italian Migration Policy (PHOTOS)

© AP Photo / Riccardo De LucaItalian Lega Nord (Northern League) protesters
Italian Lega Nord (Northern League) protesters - Sputnik International
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Several thousand protesters took to the streets in Rome on Saturday to rally against what they claim is unfair anti-migrant policies promoted by Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, AFP reported.

According to AFP, Italy's Senate, backed by the Northern League party and the Five Star Movement, voted Wednesday to clear the way for a decree that facilitates a procedure for the expulsion of migrants, making it easier for local authorities to strip some of Italian citizenship.

Local media reported that rally organizers were joined by anti-racism activists who reportedly traveled to Rome from 50 cities in the southern European nation.

The lower house of the Italian parliament now has until the end of November to approve the controversial decree, which would end "humanitarian protection" residency permits, a form of lower-level asylum status in Italy. It also allows the accelerated expulsion of 'dangerous' asylum-seekers.

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The Italian mayors' association reportedly expressed concern that the new legislation would increase the number of unemployed migrants in small communities.

Italy is pursuing a hard line policy on migration, with Salvini claiming that the country cannot remain what he referred to as Europe's "refugee camp" while neighboring countries close their borders and defend their frontiers with weapons. Italy is reportedly one of the most popular destinations among migrants, accounting for nearly 22,000 sea arrivals since the beginning of this year alone.

European countries since 2015 have been experiencing a large-scale migration crisis due in part to an influx of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing multiple humanitarian crises in the Middle East and North Africa. These migrants are trying to reach wealthy EU countries through various routes, including via Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Balkans.

READ MORE: Italy Keen to Work With Russia on Securing Libya to Fix Migration Issues

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